In Honor of Mother’s Day, Show Some Love to Your Flex-Time Policies

The title “working dad” might seem silly, borderline redundant. Yet, no one pauses when they hear the phrase “working mom,” a title that now applies to me and one I wear with pride as I cruise into my first Mother’s Day this weekend.

As a new working mom, I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to work for a company as progressive as ERE Media. Not everyone gets a fair maternity leave, and not everyone gets to work with a team of really amazing people who value family life and relationships.

In fact, a new CareerBuilder.com survey finds that 43% of working moms would choose a pay cut in order to spend more time with their kids. Something tells me that 43% is a rather low figure, assuming the other 57% haven’t spawned a “problem child” who clings to them like a rhesus monkey that practices his high-pitched shrieks at 3 am.

CareerBuilder’s survey of 880 U.S. female employees (employed full-time with at least one child under 18 years old living at home) also revealed that for those choosing the pay cut, 34% would be willing to give up 10% or more of their salaries.

Assuming a majority of your best talent managed to snag not just a job at your company, but also snag a spouse with a well-paying salary, you should be scared. Definitely scared enough to make real work-life policies that actually mean something — not merely an “employees can arrive at 7:30 instead of 9am!” mentality.

Why? The CareerBuilder survey also points out that for working moms with more than one source of income, 51% indicated they would leave their job if their spouse or significant other made enough money to support the entire family.

In the survey, 34% of working moms said they spend less than three hours per day with their children, 17% reported they had missed three or more significant events in their child’s life in the last year, and 27% had missed two or more. Most disappointing of all in this day and age of “flex time” is that 24% said work had negatively impacted the relationships they have with their children.

“As companies continue to experience a tighter labor market, the importance of retaining star employees is requiring them to implement benefits that actually encourage workers to improve the balance between their professional and family lives,” explains Mary Delaney, chief sales officer at CareerBuilder.com and mother of three.

“From flexible work schedules to job sharing to telecommuting, company-wide work/life initiatives are becoming much more universal,” she says.

Retain Star Employees

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Sure, they might be universal, but are they enough to retain your star employees?

LifemeetsWork.com, a website dedicated to fostering the flexible work movement, confirms that companies that fail to offer flexible work are missing out on some of the best talent available and will be at a distinct recruiting disadvantage within the next five years.

“Companies should think about flexibility as a way to manage their labor needs instead of as a perk for high-performing employees,” says Kyra Cavanaugh, a former marketing manager in the food industry and a mother of three.

“It’s getting harder to find skilled workers from the full-time job pool. Smart companies are tapping into alternate sources of workers, like stay-at-home moms, and implementing programs to retain younger workers and retiring boomers,” she says.

Cavanaugh’s site also includes an online job board, and each job post is reviewed to ensure it meets flex criteria.

“Flexible jobs benefit everyone,” she says.

“Companies see improvements in loyalty, productivity, and recruitment, while families experience reduced stress and improved health for both parents and their children,” adds Cavanaugh.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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